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Finding that elusive hot button means sales success

Sales Moves

All sales training includes this line: If you want to make the sale, be sure to push his hot button.

Great, where’s that?

It’s within plain sight, it’s within asking distance, it’s within listening distance. All you have to do is be alert.

Pushing the hot button only works if you can find it.

Here are some ways to discover or uncover a personal or business hot button in a conversation (NOTE WELL — personal is hotter than business):

• Ask questions about status and situation — Where he vacationed, where his kid goes to college. Where the business stands at the moment, where it came from (history).

• Ask questions about issues of pride — Biggest success in business. Biggest goal this year.

• Ask questions about personal interests — What does he do with most of his free time? What sports or what hobbies does he pursue?

• Ask what would he do if he didn’t have to work — What are his real dreams and ambitions?

• Ask goal related questions — What is the prime objective of his company this year? How is he going to meet that objective? What does he see as his biggest barrier to the goal?

• Look at everything in the office — Look for something outstanding. Something framed apart from others, or looking bigger, more prominent. Look for pictures and awards. Ask how he got them?

What’s the important part? Listening. Asking and looking are the easy parts. Listening is the hard part. Listening is the important part. The “hot button” is in the answer!

1. Listen to the first thing said or alluded to — What is first said in response to a question is what is foremost in the mind of the respondent. The thing most on your mind is usually what you talk about first. It may not be the actual hot button — but it will provide insights to it.

2. Listen for the tone of first responses — the tone will depict the urgency or importance. His gestures and loudness will indicate passion.

3. Listen for immediate, emphatic responses — Knee jerk reactions are hot subjects. Absolute agreement.

4. Listen for a long drawn out explanation or story — Something told in detail is usually compelling (and hot).

5. Listen to repeated statements — Something said twice is “at the front of the mind.”

6. Look for emotional responses — Something said with passion or in a different tone.

OK, you think you found it. Now, let’s push it.

4.5 button pushing techniques

1. Ask questions about “importance” or “significance.” What’s the importance of that to you? or How will that impact you? will help you understand the situation better.

2. Ask questions about the area you think is hot. If you have taken notes, there are some areas to probe that will generate heat.

3. Ask questions in a subtle way. Work them into the pitch as a part of the conversation, and watch the reaction. If you believe it’s a hot button, offer solutions that satisfy that circumstance.

4. Don’t be afraid to bring up the hot button throughout the presentation. Reconfirm it and listen for emphasis of response from the prospect.

4.5 Use “If I (offer a solution)…, would you (commit or buy)…” and variations. Try “There’s a way…” This type of question or statement gets true response because it consists of a possible solution that hits the button.

Words of caution

• The hot button is sometimes a very sensitive issue. It may have other ramifications that the prospect is not willing to divulge. Your job is to uncover the button and use it to make the sale. Use your best judgment. If you sense the issue is touchy, don’t push too hard.

• The hot button is elusive. But you can find it with a question or observation. The hot button is a prize you can win if you listen to the prospect with care. The hot button is a bridge that can get you from the presentation to the sale.

• The hot button is an elevator. It will go all the way to the top floor (the sale). But it only works if you push the button.

The hot button is a bridge that can get you from the presentation to the sale. All you gotta do is find it.

How do you find it?

Elementary, my dear Watson… In 1888 Sherlock Holmes said, “It is a capital offense to theorize before one has data.” You gotta be a detective to find the hot button.

Free GitBit: Want to see some more hot button ideas? I’ve prepared a few real world examples of hot button insights. Hot off the press. Just go to www.gitomer.com (register if you’re a first time visitor) and enter the words HOT BUTTON in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail



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